Mumbai: The BJP, which has inked a pre-poll alliance with the Shiv Sena, is likely to replace its five sitting MPs in Maharashtra in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections due to various reasons, including their performance, sources in the party said Thursday.
As for the Sena, its MP Anandrao Adsul may not be able to contest the upcoming elections due to his health condition, sources said.
“The BJP, which currently has 22 Lok Sabha members in Maharashtra, is set to bring in maximum changes as at least five sitting MPs are unlikely to get another chance in the 2019 general elections,” a senior party functionary said.
Some of the reasons for changing the sitting MPs include their shortcomings, their performance in Parliament as well as during the various events organised by the party in the last five years, the BJP leader said.
“Kirit Somaiya (Mumbai North East), Anil Shirole (Pune), Sharad Bansode (Solapur), Sunil Gaikwad (Latur) and Dilip Gandhi (Ahmednagar) are the five sitting Lok Sabha MPs, who are likely to be replaced,” the party leader added.
Somaiya has been facing stiff opposition from the Shiv Sena for his continued tirade against party president Uddhav Thackeray and his family, the BJP functionary said. Sena workers have already opposed the candidature of Somaiya and also warned of voting against him if he is re-nominated, he said.
“The other (four) MPs are mostly facing anti-incumbency as despite the BJP getting a strong mandate (in 2014), their presence was not felt in their respective constituencies,” another BJP leader said.
Maharashtra accounts for the second highest Lok Sabha seats – 48 – after Uttar Pradesh, which has 80.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the two saffron parties along with their allies had won 42 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra. The BJP had bagged 23 seats, while its ally Shiv Sena had emerged victorious in 18 constituencies. The BJP later lost a Lok Sabha seat in a bypoll.
Asked about the benefits of joining hands with the Sena, which has been constantly criticising the BJP and its central leadership, the BJP office-bearer said, “Both the parties have their dedicated cadres, which means those voters will always vote for the party nominated candidates.”
“The alliance also means both the parties will get each others’ votes. We have secured at least 70,000 to 1,20,000 votes in each constituency at present because of this alliance.
“These are dedicated party voters. Even if we change the sitting candidates, these people will still vote for the party. This way, the alliance has brought some comfort to both the parties,” the official said.
Adsul, the Lok Sabha MP from Amravati, is likely to be replaced because of health reasons.
“If Anandrao personally communicates to the Sena leadership his inability to contest the elections, the available option before the party would be someone from his family. If he is to be replaced, the party may field someone from his family,” a Sena leader said.
The opposition Congress had won just two Lok Sabha seats in 2014 – Nanded (Ashok Chavan) and Hingoli (Rajiv Satav).
This time, Chavan’s wife Ameeta, the MLA from Bhokar constituency in Nanded, is likely to contest the Lok Sabha polls from her husband’s seat, party sources said.
Party workers from Nanded had earlier urged Chavan, a former chief minister, to contest the Assembly elections scheduled later this year instead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Sources in the Maharashtra Congress confirmed that Satav may be given another chance this year.
The NCP, which had won four seats, is also going to replace a few of the MPs.
Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, the MP from Madha constituency in Solapur district, will make way for NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who has decided to contest the election from there.
It is also not certain whether NCP MP Dhananjay Mahadik, who represents the Kolhapur seat, will be contesting the election on the party’s ticket as there are reports he may join the BJP.
“He has been in touch with BJP leader Chandrakant Patil ever since he got elected to the Lok Sabha. With BJP-Sena alliance (now in place), he can easily win the seat if he joins the BJP or the Sena,” a BJP leader from Kolhapur said.